Water shortages: some get it, some don't care

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Colorado Springs Utilities’ water conservation message is reaching some – but water savings so far are about six percent below the 20 percent target number.

Since implementing stage two water restrictions on June 11, residents have cut back water use by about 14 percent. On June 30, residents used over 134 million gallons of water.

The city hasn’t had significant rainfall in weeks, and the winter snow pack needed to replenish city reservoirs melted weeks early and was far below normal.

Water enforcement teams (WET) racked up nearly 3,000 miles in round-the-clock patrols since the stage two conservation program was announced, and has written hundreds of warning letters to first-time violators.

Nearly 900 water use citations were issued in a six-day period near the end of June.

Officials hope that new water rates will slow water consumption. But a member of the WET who requested his name not be used said the biggest residential users of water are the “trophy” homes with large lawns whose owners don’t care how much water costs.

“They drive Mercedes and big SUV’s (sport utility vehicles), and live in million dollar homes and can afford higher water rates or fines, and they will use whatever it takes to keep their grass green,” he said.

The new block rates went into effect on July 1, and are designed to soak big users the most.

From now through October, rates are $1.52 per hundred cubic feet for the first 999 cubic feet; $1.91 per hundred for 1,000 through 2,999 cubic feet, and $2.27 per hundred cubic feet for greater than 3,000 cubic feet.

Utility officials said an average household of two to four people following city landscape watering guidelines with lots of 7,500 square feet will see water bills drop one to two percent annually. The same family size, but with lot sizes of 15,000 square feet could see its water bill increase about 17 percent.

Officials hope its first annual “ConservationQuest” will encourage more water conservation.

The week-long promotion is aimed at families and is an educational effort to encourage residents to be conservation-minded. It features games, tours and seminars. The city’s xeriscape garden will be showcased, there will be a kite flying demonstration, and a water conservation poster contest for kids.

Events will be held throughout the city, concluding with a July 20 event at Cottonwood Creek Park from 10 a.m. through 3 p.m. Attendees can tour educational exhibits, enjoy entertainment and an awards presentation at 1 p.m. to recognize outstanding water conservation efforts in the city.

For additional information on ConservationQuest, visit the city’s website at www.cus.org, or call 448-4800.